Government rejects calls to re-examine appointment of Central Bank Governor

Government rejects calls to re-examine appointment of Central Bank Governor
Gabriel Makhlouf

The Government has rejected calls for the appointment of New Zealander Gabriel Makhlouf as new Central Bank Governor to be re-examined, saying it cannot be undone.

Mr Maklouf has been engulfed in controversy given his role in a scandal in his home country, where a report strongly criticised his handling of the affair.

And then in recent days, anonymous concerns have been articulated from ECB circles about his fitness for office.

The Irish Times reported on Tuesday that two of Mr Makhlouf's predecessors have made their concerns known to the government sources about his skillset.

But Mr Makhlouf, having already been appointed to an independent office by the President on the recommendation of the Government, is all but unassailable in his position.

“The bar to removing the Governor from office is ridiculously high to avoid the position from coming under political fire,” said a senior Government source.

Today, Labour leader Brendan Howlin called for the appointment to be paused and re-examined.

“The Department of Finance has played down the findings of an independent inquiry into the New Zealand budget scandal involving Mr Makhlouf.

"While the report indicated that Mr Makhlouf had not acted in an improper fashion, it was severely critical of his actions and he was criticised for not describing the incident accurately.”

“He has been widely criticised in New Zealand for not taking personal responsibility for the incident and for failing to attend a key parliamentary committee in the aftermath of the incident,” he said.

We are entitled to set a higher bar for the competence of the incoming Governor than the mere absence of deliberate wrong doing.

"The Department of Finance is seeking to whitewash the issues raised in the report,” the Labour leader said.

“It also seems that the Minister for Finance has been less than forthcoming about this appointment.

"The Minister has to satisfy himself that the Governor is the best person to lead the Irish Central Bank and to guide its relations with the ECB at this critical time.

"He needs to explain why he is ignoring the concerns of both former Governors and the ECB itself in relation to this appointment,” Howlin said.

The Department of Finance has said it has received no objection from the ECB in respect of the appointment. Mr Makhlouf was selected as the new Governor of the CBI following a competitive, international process and was, and is, deemed to be the most suitable candidate for the role, it said.

Mr Makhlouf has been found by the independent State Services Commission to have acted at all times with honesty, integrity, and in good faith, and was politically neutral throughout, a spokeswoman added.

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